Performance Validity Testing in Neuropsychology: Scientific Basis and Clinical Application—A Brief Review

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Performance validity testing refers to neuropsychologists’ methodology for determining whether neuropsychological test performances completed in the course of an evaluation are valid (ie, the results of true neurocognitive function) or invalid (ie, overly impacted by the patient’s effort/engagement in testing). This determination relies upon the use of either standalone tests designed for this sole purpose, or specific scores/indicators embedded within traditional neuropsychological measures that have demonstrated this utility. In response to a greater appreciation for the critical role that performance validity issues play in neuropsychological testing and the need to measure this variable to the best of our ability, the scientific base for performance validity testing has expanded greatly over the last 20 to 30 years. As such, the majority of current day neuropsychologists in the United States use a variety of measures for the purpose of performance validity testing as part of everyday forensic and clinical practice and address this issue directly in their evaluations. The following is the first article of a 2-part series that will address the evolution of performance validity testing in the field of neuropsychology, both in terms of the science as well as the clinical application of this measurement technique. The second article of this series will review performance validity tests in terms of methods for development of these measures, and maximizing of diagnostic accuracy.

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